Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks (Briana’s Review)

Pumpkinheads

INFORMATION

Goodreads: Pumpkinheads
Series: None
Source: Library
Publication Date: Sept. 2019

Official Summary

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?

Star Divider

Review

Read Krysta’s review here.

I really wanted to read this book in autumn 2019 when it came out, and then I missed reading it again in autumn 2020 because my library was closed for the pandemic, and I dislike reading ebooks of graphic novels. I love pumpkin patches and corn mazes and had this idea that the book would be a perfect autumnal read that would make me feel as if I were visiting one, even if I couldn’t get to one in person. Well, I read the book in summer 2021, and it turns out the fall vibes are so strong that I felt very pumpkin-patchy even with the hot summer sun shining down on me!

And the fun of the book is that it depicts THE ultimate pumpkin patch. This pumpkin patch has everything: pumpkin slings, pumpkin ice cream, fudge, succotash, kettle corn, hay rides, a corn mazes, candy apples, a smores pit, and a dozen other things I’m forgetting. The protagonists visit them all as they go on a quest to locate another employee/just have fun on their own last night employed at the patch. I would love to visit this place if such an epic pumpkin patch existed near me.

Besides the fact that the book allowed me to live a little autumn day dream, though, I don’t have much to say about it. Technically there’s a bit of plot: the two characters running around looking for another employee that one of them has been crushing on, so he can confess his love. I don’t think that part was particularly interesting or even the point, though; it’s just so there’s some kind of framework for the book.

However, I liked it for what it was. I didn’t expect much in the way of storytelling, just autumn atmosphere, and that’s exactly what I got. I could see myself rereading this each autumn just for the fun of it, too.

Briana
4 stars

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

Pumpkinheads

Information

Goodreads: Pumpkinheads
Series: None
Source: Library
Publication Date: Sept. 2019

Summary

Deja and Josiah are best friends once a year when they both work at the local pumpkin patch.  But now it’s their last day of the season and their last day on the job–both are heading off to college.  Deja wants Josiah to seize the day and finally talk to the girl he’s been crushing on for years.  And she’s on her own mission to eat every autumn snack available at the patch.

Star Divider

Review

Pumpkinheads is the perfect fall read, set in an idealized pumpkin patch that offers every autumn experience and food one could imagine, from the corn maze to the kettle corn to the pie palace and the succotash hut.  Basically, if you can never get enough of fall, Pumpkinheads is the book for you, regardless of whether you are invested in the plot.  Indeed, the atmospheric setting of the book is its best feature.  An overly simple plot focused on a “surprise” twist at the end means that the story has very little re-readability, which is, for me, the hallmark of a truly great story.

Pumpkinheads may be considered a character-driven story, as the plot is really no more than a few running gags.  Deja and Josiah run from place to place across the pumpkin patch, each seeking their own goals: Deja to try all the snacks (and get revenge on a “punk” kid) and Josiah to meet at last the Fudge Shoppe Girl, whom he’s been mooning over for years.  However, they keep being thwarted and must dash off to yet another location in pursuit of their missions.  In other words, the plot really just exists to showcase all the autumn-themed foods and activities the patch has to offer–and it hopefully develops the relationship between Deja and Josiah along the way.  Personally, however, I think the patch ends up being a stronger character than either Deja or Josiah.

The fact that the plot is a running gag with a surprise twist at the end (one easily predicted from the start) means that I cannot see myself rereading Pumpkinheads.  The whole point is to build up anticipation to the moment when Josiah finally meets (or misses) the elusive Fudge Shoppe Girl.  Once you’ve experienced the ending and you know what’s coming, there’s no suspense left.  And, frankly, I don’t think the rest of the book is strong enough to make up for that–not even with Faith Erin Hicks’ beautiful drawings.

Pumpkinheads will appeal to fans of Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks.  And it’s a must-read if you simply want something evocative of fall.  It is not, however, the type of story that I see lasting for years.

3 Stars